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NL Health Services Reports Pertussis Outbreak in Eastern Zones

Public AdvisoriesEastern-RuralEastern-Urban
Posted: May 9, 2024

Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Health Services advises the public of an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in the eastern zones of the province.

Since February 2024, there have been 42 cases of whooping cough reported throughout the Eastern Urban and Rural zones of NL Health Services. Currently, most cases are being seen in school-aged children, however the age range is two months to 89 years.

NL Health Services’ Medical Officer of Health and Communicable Disease Control team are working with other health-care professionals to monitor and respond to this evolving situation, investigate the cases reported to public health, identify close contacts of those who have tested positive for whooping cough and implement precautionary measures required to control the spread.


Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness, caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis, spread through close contact with an infected person via nose and throat secretions from coughs and sneezes. Symptoms usually develop within 5 to 10 days after exposure, but sometimes do not develop for as long as three weeks. Whooping cough typically begins with cold-like symptoms and a cough that worsens over one to two weeks. Coughing may occur in fits followed by a “whooping” noise, vomiting, cyanosis (turning blue) or the inability to catch one’s breath. Coughing may be worse at night.


Beginning May 9, 2024, an appointment-only testing clinic will open at 50 Mundy Pond Road, St. John’s, NL. Testing will be available for individuals who are experiencing symptoms of whooping cough AND have been in contact with someone who has whooping cough.

Testing will be by appointment only. Appointments can be made by calling 709-752-7852 or texting 1-877-709-0512.

If you are not aware that you have been in contact with someone who has whooping cough, but are experiencing symptoms, please contact your primary care provider or 811.


Antibiotics can prevent the spread of whooping cough and are recommended for individuals diagnosed with the infection and close contacts who are considered high risk. These include babies less than one year of age and pregnant women in their third trimester.

Community residents are advised to protect themselves and their families through good health habits such as cover, clean, contain – use a tissue or your arm to cover coughs and sneezes; clean your hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitizer; and contain your illness by staying home when you are sick.

The vaccines that protect against whooping cough are part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s recommended routine childhood immunization schedule and school immunization schedules. A booster dose of the vaccine (Tdap) is also recommended for adults, and for pregnant women during each pregnancy. If you are unsure if you are up to date with whooping cough vaccine or need to arrange immunization, individuals in the Eastern Urban and Rural zones may contact your local public health nursing office, or call 1-877-752-8171.


Individuals in the Central, Labrador-Grenfell and Western Zones who have questions about pertussis booster/Tdap vaccine availability are asked to call their local public health clinic/community health office. For contact information, please refer to your zone’s website: Central, Labrador-Grenfell and Western.

For more information about whooping cough, talk to your health-care provider, a public health nurse or visit the Hi website.


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